March 10, 2010

Exchange with councilor fires up Bay State bikers

DENNIS HOEY

— By

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — An exchange of e-mails between a Massachusetts motorcyclist and a Portland official over a proposed noise ordinance has riled up bikers across New England.

Mike Hodnett, president of United Bikers of Maine, said City Councilor John Anton's response to an e-mail from Mike Longtin was inappropriate, and predicted that Anton's reply will persuade other bikers to avoid Portland.

''I was actually quite surprised when I read the e-mail,'' Hodnett said Thursday. ''You've just alienated a half-million people. A motorcyclist's money is just as green as everyone else's.''

Longtin sent an e-mail to the City Council on Thursday, saying he had planned to stay at a Portland hotel with four biker friends next week. But he decided to avoid the city because ''any place that does not want to work with motorcyclists to curb motorcycle noise is not going to get my biker bucks ... So kiss $8,000 or more between my friends and I goodbye.''

Longtin said he had canceled his hotel reservations and fishing charters, and that he would take his business to Laconia, N.H., ''a city that loves bikers.''

Anton fired off a reply: ''Mike, thanks for your e-mail. I think Laconia is just the right place for you and your friends to go on vacation. In fact, please tell all the Massachusetts bikers you know to go to Laconia instead of Maine.''

In a second e-mail, Longtin threatened to pass Anton's message along to Massachusetts' 180,000 bikers, as well as others across the country.

In a later e-mail, Anton softened his remarks. Anton said he had spoken only for himself, not for the City Council or the city, adding, ''your original e-mail was antagonistic and I responded in kind.''

In a telephone interview Thursday, Anton apologized for his words. ''Stepping back, I don't think what I said advances the public debate. I should have known better,'' he said.

Hodnett said United Bikers will oppose the noise ordinance when it comes before the City Council.

Councilor Nicholas Mavodones Jr. said the council has not yet seen a formal proposal for curbing motorcycle noise in the city. He also defended Anton, saying, ''He's a very smart guy and he certainly is welcome to respond to any constituent.''

I don't think he was trying to cast the city or motorcyclists in a bad light,'' he said.

Anton offered to buy Longtin a beer. ''If he's going to Laconia, I'd be happy to meet him halfway,'' he said.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

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